Men’s squash goes 2-3

In one of the busiest weeks in their history, men’s squash went 2-3 in a series of matches against Harvard, Yale, Bates, Colby and Denison, leaving the Ephs with a 3-4 record as they continue their quest to stay within the top eight national rankings. While the Ephs showed improved play in losses to Harvard and Yale and victories over Bates and Colby, a fired-up Denison squad, playing their best match of the year, was able to sneak out five individual wins to take its Sunday match against Williams.

Going into their weekend tournament held at Yale’s Bradley Center, the eighth- ranked Ephs expected challenges from both an improved Bates team and traditional rival Denison. The first match on Saturday, though, was against NESCAC foe Colby. Having both superior players at the top of the lineup, along with better depth, the Ephs were able to crush the over-matched Mules 8-1. Seven out of the eight victories came in only three games, with only Dave Morris ’03 having to play an extra game.

After a quick rest at the court, the Ephs returned later that evening to face a more talented Bates team. Despite an earlier match, the Ephs came out strong. Co-captain Parth Doshi ’03, playing second and severely handicapped by a hip injury that has limited his playing this season, still demonstrated great shot-making as he cruised to an easy 3-game victory.

Fellow Eph Brad Uy ’03 also clinched an early 3-game victory, while Scott Pierce ’05 fell in three games to his Bates opponent.

At four, Todd Herlihy ’05 struggled early on as Bates’ Rob Weller played strong squash and raced out to a two games to one lead. But Herlihy held his composure and was able to fight off several match-balls in extra points in the fourth game to win 10-9. He went on to take the fifth game and capture 3-2 victory.

In the second set of matches, Ted Unger ’06 used precise drop shots combined with attacking rails to beat Alex Wolf 3-1 at the ninth slot. Charlie Giammattei ’05 and David Morris ’03 both controlled the pace and rhythm of their matches as they won 3-game matches at seven and five, respectively. Co-Captain Max Montgelas ’03 overwhelmed his opponent, shutting him out in the last two games as he also won in three games. In the last match, Dan Bishop ’05, following the path of the previous match, fell behind two games to one, dropping two games in extra points. Bishop was able to speed up the pace in the last two games as he gave up only one point and went on to win the match 3-2.

Sunday proved to be a far different day. Playing early in the morning, Williams struggled in the early matches. Both Herlihy and Uy dropped their matches, while Doshi again crushed his opponent. At six, Pierce shook off the losses he suffered the day before to play the best squash of his career. Pierce’s tight rails and soft drops earned him the first and fourth games, pushing the match to a decisive fifth game. In the fifth, Pierce took an early lead but several excruciating long rallies sapped Pierce of his energy, and Denison was able to take the match.

Knowing Montgelas faced a difficult match against All-American Javier Castilla, both Morris and Giammattei lead Williams to a comeback. Giammattei displayed greatly improved technique with all his shots and used his trademark strength and speed to win three closely contested games. Morris simply showed that he was the better player on court; he also won a straight-game victory. At nine, Unger quickly defeated his Denison opponent, and the three victories tied the score at four all, as Castilla beat Montgelas in three games. In the final match, Bishop took the first game but then lost the next two games, both in extra points. In the fourth, Bishop’s Denison opponent pulled out enough front-court shots to win the fourth, taking the match 3-1 and the match for Denison 5-4.

Earlier in the week, both Harvard and Yale, the third- and fourth-ranked teams in the country, beat the Ephs in 9-0 matches. Despite the score, there were highlights for the Ephs in both matches.

In Tuesday’s contest at Harvard, Unger took the second and fourth games from Harvard’s Peter Wallach before losing in the fifth.

Against Yale, Montgelas played inspired squash against Yale’s first-year star Julian Illingworth.Montgelas matched Illingworth, who recently advanced to the quarterfinals of the Junior World Championships, before falling in three games.